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As part of the Indigenous Women’s Voices Summit, being presented this month by the Hurleyville Performing Arts Centre, the Catskills-based Gallery 222 has organized Decoding Craft, a two-person show that features fiber and mixed-media works by artists Erin Lee Antonak and Sariah Park.
“We are the descendants of craftsmen and women,” the gallery statement explains. “We made (and continue to make) objects to celebrate, to mourn, to welcome, to give thanks, to heal.”
The women in Antonak’s family are cornhusk braiders, and her work often utilizes corn husks as base material.
“The crafting of these False Faces, the reverent act of braiding the long cornhusk ropes that would be stitched into coils and turned into a mask is thought of as a type of medicine for both the maker and the receiver of the mask,” Antonak notes in her artist statement.
Sariah Park also comes from a long line of artists and makers, and explores through her work what it means to be a mixed-heritage woman living in the modern US. She is interested in the way objects hold identity, specifically textiles and traditional crafts. Her process of making is tied to her own Indigenous culture, as well as focused on “helping to heal the invisible wounds of inherited trauma,” according to the gallery’s statement.
Both artists generate a conversation between material, history, and self-expression, and the joint presentation of their work amplifies these points of connection, even as their material forms vary.
The goal of the Indigenous Women’s Voices Summit is “to celebrate, ignite and connect first people’s from Canada to Mexico in a vision for transformative social change that puts the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice into creative action.” In addition to Decoding Craft, Summit programming has included a silent auction, an online short film festival, and a virtual artist talk with Antonak and Park, among other events.
Decoding Craft continues through November 1 at Gallery 222 (222 Main Street, Hurleyville, NY).